Powell Says Shrinking GOP Should Return To The Center
The Republican Party is in big trouble and needs to find a way to move back to the middle of the country, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday.
Powell said the GOP is "getting smaller and smaller" and "that's not good for the nation." He also said he hopes that emerging GOP leaders, such as House Minority Whip Cantor, will not keep repeating mantras of the far right.
"The Republican Party is in deep trouble," Powell told corporate security executives at a conference in Washington sponsored by Fortify Software Inc. The party must realize that the country has changed, he said. "Americans do want to pay taxes for services," he said. "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less."
Powell, secretary of State during the first term of former President George W. Bush, made waves last year when he came out for the Democratic presidential candidate, then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Powell described the 2008 GOP candidate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, as "a beloved friend" but said he told him last summer that the party had developed a reputation for being mean-spirited and driven more by social conservatism than the economic problems that Americans faced.
Powell also criticized other GOP leaders, for bowing too much to the right.
He blasted radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, saying he does not believe that Limbaugh or conservative icon Ann Coulter serve the party well. He said the party lacks a "positive" spokesperson. "I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without," Powell said.
He also said that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate last year, is "a very accomplished person" but became "a very polarizing figure." He said the polarization was created by Palin's advisers.
Powell said he does not want Republicans to turn into Democrats but rather to build a vibrant party.
On other fronts, Powell said he was concerned that the Pentagon is reportedly going to create a new command to manage military cybersecurity affairs. "I smell a bureaucratic fight taking place inside the administration," he said. "I'm always nervous when people want to create new commands because new commands create new stovepipes."
According to Obama administration officials and media reports, U.S. government information networks are being attacked by criminals and attackers working for foreign governments, namely China and Russia. Powell said creating a command might be the correct solution, but he added: "My own view is take it slow, make sure you get it right."